Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford


  • Bibiana RojasEmail author
  • Ossi Nokelainen
  • Janne K. Valkonen
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2669-1



Anti-predator strategy in which prey exhibit warning signals coupled with some form of secondary defense.


Among the many strategies that animals have evolved to deter predators, aposematism is one of the most intriguing. Already in 1877, Sir Alfred Russell Wallace provided thoughts about how distasteful butterflies would benefit from displaying “showy” colors that made them stand out among other butterflies. This, Wallace suggested, helped them being easily seen and recognized, and, consequently, avoided by their enemies (Wallace 1877). The term aposematism, first used by Sir Edward Poulton in 1890, is composed of two words of Greek origin, apo (away) and sema (sign) and refers to an anti-predator strategy that consists of the display of warning signals by prey in order to inform predators about their unprofitability (Poulton 1890). The warning signal, often a conspicuous color or pattern, a...


Warning Signal Primary Defense Coral Snake Batesian Mimicry Conspicuous Coloration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bibiana Rojas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ossi Nokelainen
    • 1
  • Janne K. Valkonen
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions, Department of Biological and Environmental ScienceUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

Section editors and affiliations

  • Russell Jackson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IdahoMoscowUSA